the size of the company while building a robust executive leadership team to take Nymbus to the next phase. Kendall shares a few strategies and management lessons that apply to banks and credit unions and busts some myths about banking innovation and transformation along the way. 1. You’re Smarter Than You Think There’s a myth, often perpetuated by technology firms, that bank and credit union employees are just not as technologically savvy as the folks in Silicon Valley. Totally untrue, says Kendall, noting that some of the brightest, sharpest and most innovative people he has had the pleasure of working with work in banks and credit unions. Indeed, one credit union customer investing capital in Nymbus has one of the most talented leadership teams in financial services and is committed to technology and to growing the credit union. The pandemic and the acceptance of remote work has leveled the employment playing field. A community bank in the Midwest that once had talent limitations can now hire remote workers thrilled not to have to live in the Bay Area, Austin, or other high-priced technology hot spots. Technology firms do dangle equity in front of talent, and although banks and credit unions may not be able to offer competitive stock options, they can look at other types of rewards, incentives and motivations.
2. Embrace a Virtual Culture Kendall notes that the Nymbus culture allows the company to take advantage of what’s been called the Great Resignation — an unprecedented number of employees who are leaving their jobs for greener pastures, whether that’s more money, a better work/life balance, or an environment that makes diversity and inclusion a priority. Nymbus has always had a mostly virtual workforce and unlike many companies, didn’t have to suddenly pivot to remote work due to the pandemic. That bodes well for Nymbus, says Kendall. “Companies are struggling whether to be virtual or on-site and employees get caught up in the indecision.” Kendall believes in giving employees the choice. Employees are welcome to work on- site at least partially in the company's offices in Columbus, Ohio or at headquarters in Jacksonville, and about 10% of employees choose that option. “It’s about being flexible and being part of their whole life versus inhibiting their non- work life,” he says. Kendall acknowledges that staying connected while working remotely is hard work. “We’ve been intentional about building relationships, regardless of whether employees are working in Seattle or Miami,” he adds. For instance, Nymbus created a nine month leadership development program to strengthen the team bonds in a virtual environment.
3. Becoming a Fintech Isn’t Out of Reach…
Digital transformation is also heavily reliant on people. “You can’t put great technology into the hands of people who don’t have the vision to transform and expect the technology to perform,” explains Kendall. “But there is a lot of innovation that can happen outside of technology by looking at things from different perspectives.” 6. Make D&I a Priority Nymbus’ commitment to diversity and inclusion is also attractive to top talent. It’s not just talk: more than 50% of Nymbus employees are women and the management team is 65% women, going well beyond Marketing and HR posts. Diversity doesn’t just happen — especially in technology companies. Working with a former recruiter to fill a sales leader position, Kendall was struck that the resumes all looked alike: white men. “I asked that at least 50% of the resumes I received be from female candidates,” recalls Kendall. The recruiter pushed back, responding that there are not as many women in technology careers as men. “There may be fewer women, but we are prioritizing diversity,” Kendall replied. “There are no excuses.” Diversity becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. “The more diverse talent you hire, the more you look like a place that people of different backgrounds and ethnicities will feel comfortable and attracted to,” explains Kendall. “The key to attracting great talent is to have people who can serve as role models to others. They can identify and see themselves in that person’s role in five years.” The more diverse talent you hire, the more you look like a place that people of different backgrounds and ethnicities will feel comfortable and attracted to. Jeffery Kendall CEO at Nymbus Diversity becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy
Kendall believes that banks and credit unions can become fintechs. Not only do they have the talent, they also have the most valuable asset of all: a charter. “Every fintech needs a bank behind them, but not every bank needs a fintech. You’ve got the fuel to be your own fintech with help from partners,” he explains. Kendall and his team spend a lot of time talking with bank and credit union executives to demonstrate that, with a partner, it’s not that big of a leap to become a fintech. And there's a big upside for taking that risk. While agility may be easier for fintechs since they are unburdened with legacy systems, remember that fintechs struggle with technology and change as well. And banks and credit unions can overcome any legacy obstacles by implementing different operating models. Another myth is that fintechs are better at marketing than banks and credit unions. Again, not true, says Kendall. What gives fintechs an edge is that they tend to leverage external agencies and understand the value in data driven customer acquisition strategies — something financial institutions can do as well. 4. Move Quickly Banks and credit unions can’t afford to move slowly. “It’s about growth and it’s about speed,” says Kendall. “You have to keep pace with a rapidly changing industry.” Kendall advises his bank and credit union customers to quickly test out the feasibility of innovations. Quickly investigate the idea, but be prepared to let it go if it’s not working. 5. Transformation is a Team Sport “Digital transformation” is a term that makes Kendall cringe because he believes that it implies that digital transformation is a standalone initiative under the purview of the chief digital officer. Instead, digital transformation is really a mindset that is organization-wide.
The advantage of having a charter: ”
Every fintech needs a bank behind them, but not every bank needs a fintech. You’ve got the fuel to be your own fintech with help from partners. Jeffery Kendall CEO at Nymbus
THE FINANCIAL BRAND INSIGHTS WINTER 2021
THE FINANCIAL BRAND INSIGHTS WINTER 2021
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